How to Negotiate Lobola Prices

How to negotiate labola

Lobola is an African tradition that is practised in numerous Southern African regions. Various cultures such as the Zulu, Shona, Ndebele, Swati, Pedi, Tswana, Sotho, Xhosa, Tsonga and Venda still practise this old tradition, even in today’s modern times.
The practise has undergone a few changes over the years, but largely maintains its basic principles.

The process of lobola negotiation can be tricky and has been known to be the cause of the dissolution of many relationships. For this reason, having the knowledge on how to negotiate lobola prices can be very helpful.

Choose the best representatives

According to most African cultures, the representatives during lobola negotiations are usually the uncles and other male members of the family. The people who will negotiate lobola prices on your behalf should not be in it for personal financial gain.

Keep in mind that most families choose cash instead if cows nowadays because of convenience.
There are however some instances when lobola is paid in cows. A common preice is set for one cow and that is multiplied by the number of cows requested by the bride’s family.

Don’t argue during the negotiations.
The negotiations won’t be easy, but members should try to remain calm at all times and negotiate fairly.

These days, lobola is linked with education and also with the suitability of a partner in terms of price. Keep in mind that lobola prices will be based on a number of factors. Some of the most common factors are eduaction and number of children out of wedlock.

The standard is usually 11 or 12 cows.
Depending on the culture of the family of the bride, the number of cows may range between 5 and 15 cows. The average price in South Africa is 12 cows. There are certain customs in each culture that dictate how this amount should be paid. It is usually expected to be paid in full following the negotiation process.

Make sure that you do get your copy of the lobola contract. It’s important to document the entire process in a notebook for future referenceĀ if necessary.

How the lobola negotiation process works:

The groom’s family goes to the bride’s home where he and his family have to negotiate to get in.

The negotiation happens behind closed doors and it takes place in teh early mornings.
The groom is not present during the negotiations. He must send delegates to negotiate lobola prices on his behalf.

It’s importantĀ to understand the differences in cross-cultural settings. The people negotiating should have good listening skills and be willing to negotiate.
The process varies from culture to culture, but if negotiations fail, the delegates are sent back home. They will be invited to negotiate further at another stage.

The ritual is said to form a bond between the two families and signifies the groom’s way of thanking the bride’s family for raising her well.


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